The Online Video Dealership – Streaming Media East 2011
On Tuesday, May 10th, I happily left work a little early to browse the exhibits at this year’s Streaming Media East event. If you have never been to the event and you’re into online multimedia then I highly recommend you check out SM West in November 2011. This year was a little tamer than last year with regards to Online Video Platforms, with some of the larger names like Brightcove, Ooyala, and KIT Digital bowing out this year. Some of the well-known OVP providers like Kaltura, Limelight, Polycom, Mediaplatform, and Qumu were present, while lesser-known companies with some unique, if not innovative, qualities stood out for me like Magnify.net, Vbrick, Empress, and Ignite. Later that evening at another Online Video event, Steve Rosenbaum from Magnify.net made a good point about the expo, particularly about Online Video Platforms – when you visit a car dealership, you wouldn’t necessary say, “excuse me, I would like to buy a car, and then drive off the lot in one an hour later. These days there are trucks, sedans, SUVs, etc. The same goes with the OVP market.” I couldn’t agree more, as there can be significant differences in a webcasting platform versus the traditional OVP. Below are just some examples of what Streaming Media East had to offer.
I spent the most amount of time with a senior product developer for Mediaplatform, as he showcased their Webcaster and PrimeTime offerings on the Blackberry Playbook. Unfortunately, half of that time was spent trying to get the tethering to work properly between the Playbook and his Blackberry phone. Not sure why we hit this roadblock, as the building had WIFI, but maybe they were in a deadzone? Either way, the photo below illustrates the clunky double fisting user experience that quickly leads to disappointment, especially when showcasing a product demo. After a few minutes, I just felt bad for the guy as he tried to get a decent signal and decided to stick around for another 5 minutes.
Once we had a signal, we got down to brass tacks. Mediaplatform, according to the exhibitor, is putting considerable emphasis on Flash media and putting Windows Media in the rearview mirror, which I think makes sense depending on their customer base. As someone who has been working with multimedia customers for several years, I have seen a few companies that still ban Flash and demand WMV, but those numbers I’ve dealt with are in the single digits per year. The video is very crisp and made use of the screen real estate.
I was interested in checking out their PrimeTime platform, known as their Youtube-like experience for the Enterprise, however I was already on a tight schedule if I was going to hit the rest of the vendor booths. I also felt like they needed some better organization to really show off their mobile development – they sent out a press release early that day about a big mobile strategy that also included iOS and Andriod devices, but all I got to see was Playbook content.
Limelight Networks: http://www.limelightvideoplatform.com/
Limelight was an excellent example for other businesses exhibiting at Streaming Media East this year. For one thing, they had several Senior Sales Engineers on site, not to mention the former CEO of Delve Networks, the company Limelight purchased for its OVP and talent. Also, they weren’t looking to catapult into a sales pitch but rather draw people in the use of their offering. When I stopped by, they had a small but very interested crowd observing the Content Manager interface, which looks like a dark-skinned iTunes. Unfortunately, the photos I took didn’t expose when against the LCD screen, but you can get the hint from their home page.
A senior solutions engineer approached me and we started to discuss the meat and potatoes – no sugar coated sales pitch, just the basics: 1) describe the product 2) where did it come from 3) who is using it. Firstly, Limelight’s OVP was described as “Apple on the front-end, Google under the hood.” Fair enough, I think everyone who hears that gets the general idea. Secondly, it was developed by Delve Networks, and that’s when Alex Castro, the former CEO of Delve, joined the conversation. Thirdly, they recommended checking out the official Pokemon.com website for an excellent example of how they integrate video with their customers’ web sites. Once I got home and followed their recommendation, I came to two conclusions 1) the presentation and functionality is very well executed, stylish, and easy to use. They have created channels within the OVP content manager to organize and publish seasons (I think they are seasons?) of the show. 2) I have no idea what I watched for 10 minutes, or what a Pokemon is exactly, but then again, I’m sure my parents couldn’t figure out Voltron either. I enjoyed the session with Limelight so I decided to write my next OVP series entry on their solution.
Ignite Technologies: http://www.ignitetech.com
Before SM East, I had not heard of Ignite, an internal enterprise-only content and streaming provider. They do not provide content to the public Internet according to the exhibitor, and focus mainly on internal content delivery for companies such as education, HR, and corp communications to same a few. These guys leverage P2P (peer-to-peer) streaming to take the pressure off the network. They too have been influenced by Apple and Google, with content viewing much like the “cover flow” views you’ll see in Apple products and iTunes, as well as a social video app for the iPad that has the look and feel of YouTube. What I liked most about the app was the on-demand download, similar to those seen in news applications like WSJ and NYT, so you can take your Enterprise video with you in non-connected locations.
Qumu, on the other hand, is a well known competitor in my company’s webcasting sights, so naturally I had heard of them prior to SM East. An online video streaming and webcasting company, these guys had an interesting break in the road – employee generated content, enterprise LDAP and Sharepoint integration, and extensive APIs and SDK package. No other exhibitor mentioned the importances of APIs, but that was the first topic discussed when I approached the booth – Qumu’s SDK and APIs as part of a package called, Q-Link, for mobile application development. Then, I was briefly shown a sample of TIM (not the wizard from Monty Python and the Holy Grail), their Technical Integration Module that allows users to search their Qumu-powered online video library through Sharepoint. Their mission statement about “Freedom, Power and Control” is consistent with our discussion about giving customers the tools to development, which is rare these days given everything that online video has many different facets.
That covers part 1. My next post to wrap up my focus at Streaming Media East 2011 will cover the importance of content, and how some online video providers, including one exhibitor at Streaming Media East, are raising awareness on the importance of curation and asset management.